SJFCC 128/5 from 20 overs, HHTCCC 130/4 from 17.1 overs – HHTCCC won by 6 wickets
Hemel Hempstead Town CC Under-17 colts arrived as the season’s first visitors to the new home of St. John’s Fishers, at London Colney CC’s ground in Shenley Green. It was a classic early summer evening perfect for this brand of cricket – heavy, menacing skies threatened rain with the occasional few drops, though ultimately a still, dry, cool few hours to work off the stubborn Christmas weight.
Controversy reigned before the match had begun, when it became clear the visiting boys had recruited a ringer for the fixture. He had arrived in disguise, cleverly intending to blend unnoticed into the clubhouse background – several days’ stubble, dark glasses and a beer in hand is classic hoodwinking getup, though maybe not the best disguise when turning out for a team of schoolboys… It was only bloody DCI Summers, whose batting average with Fishers is eclipsed by his statistics when playing for the oppo.
Along with fielding, catching, general fitness and defensive shots, the winter had obviously seen little practice at the coin toss. Skipper was beaten heads down and Fishers were asked to bat first.
Messrs Tatlock and King took to the middle for what could be described as a changeable first over. Some excellent running was followed almost immediately by a long trudge back for Mr King, who was bowled for 3 off his second ball. By which I don’t mean he played on. This brought Chairman Watson to the crease, who would eventually retire on a hearty 25 full of characteristic wallops and reverse sweeps. Julian was given LBW on 6, before Hoskins Snr. provided able support to our Chairman with a near run-a-ball 14. As Hoskins fell and Watson retired in quick succession, Andy “Reevo” Reeves also made a brief cameo appearance hitting 4 runs and being stumped on the next delivery. Fishers were 65 for 4 after 11 overs with two batsmen new to the crease in Bambi and Boxer. But far from being on the ropes, the pair put on 47 runs including the first 6 of the innings from Bambi, who was to retire on Fishers’ top score of 29. Another brief cameo from Hazon, who was cruelly caught for a duck’s egg at point by WPC Summers, before Minchin joined the fray with the second and last 6 of the innings, finishing on 7 not out with Boxer also not out on 25. Fishers finished on 128 for 5, which was widely felt to be insufficient against an opposition that has an actual town in its name.
After the innings break, and in bare-faced defiance of Fishers’ usual rotation policy, the bowling was also opened by Mr Tatlock, with Minchin and his straighter-than-straight fare from the other end. HHTCC, however, made a brisk start with 24 from the first 3 overs – PCSO Summers scoring the bulk of these before being caught off Minchin for 20. This brought W Langley to the crease to join the other opener, May. The former went on to retire at 27 not out, failing to match the earlier cervine effort, with the latter pinched out by Robert “Golden Arm” Vale, stumped for 20. Wilson made a patient 5 but was bowled by Matt “The” King, while E Langley (unconfirmed relation) put on his own 24 runs before also being bowled, this time by Reevo. Hoskins Jnr. Scored 15 to move the game to its conclusion, while at the other end Woosley no doubt caught the eye of Fishers’ talent scouts by facing down 7 testing dot balls. It was to be Woosley, though, who hit the winning runs as Fishers adopted some unorthodox fielding tactics – Watson came on to bowl with 7 slips and 2 gullies (though some argue there were 6 slips and 2 gullies with a very backward point, but that was just Anil). It was a ploy to get the big man moving, however Woosley’s mind was on his own score rather than the silly antics of these grown men, and punched the ball through the vacant cover region for 4, thereby saving our Chairman any unnecessary puff.
HHTCCC never looked like losing the match after making a good start and steady progress, completing their chase with 17 balls to spare. So all involved retired to the clubhouse for the evening to enjoy age-appropriate beverages with sausage and chips that neatly paraphrased Fishers’ early season form – rather undercooked with about 20 per cent meat. And nobody got the runs.